Cooking During the Holidays With Kids

With special treats and family gatherings, the holidays are the perfect time to teach your child about cooking and nutrition. Kids will not only get to try the new foods they prepare, they will also get a big boost to their confidence when they see family enjoying their creations.

Safety Precautions

To be safe, cover a few ground rules before getting started in the kitchen. Teach kids to wash their hands with warm, soapy water while singing two choruses of “Happy Birthday” to kill all germs. Stress that it is never safe to eat raw egg – even the cookie dough of their favorite cookies.

Teaching Basics

To begin cooking, teach your child the basics, such as cracking an egg or gathering the ingredient for a favorite holiday recipe. Convey to your child the importance of measuring the correct amount of each ingredient and the different types of utensils you need to use.

Look Who’s Cooking

To keep your children enthusiastic about cooking, assign tasks of a holiday recipe they are able to prepare based upon their abilities. Here are some ideas based upon your child’s age:

  • Five and Six year olds: Stir instant pudding, snap green beans, prepare lettuce for a salad, press cookie cutters, pour liquids into batter
  • Seven and Eight year olds: Rinse vegetables, shuck corn, mix and shake ingredients, beat eggs, measure dry ingredients.
  • Nine and Ten year olds: knead bread dough, stir hot mixtures, blend batters, broil foods in toaster oven, cut food with a table knife.
  • Children age 10 and older: slice or chop vegetables, boil potatoes, microwave foods, bake foods in the oven, simmer ingredients on the stove.

Remember to allow your child to gradually master cooking methods. Start with simple techniques like rolling dough, using a cookie cutter or spreading frosting. Give your child time to work their way up to completing the entire cookie making process. Explain different methods for cooking your favorite recipe with your children.

Hoot Owl Cookies

Here is a fun cookie recipe you may enjoy making with your child. It has several steps, being a rolled out cookie dough recipe, but still fun to make.  Go to:

Nutritional Information: Calories 110; Total Fat 7g (Sat Fat 3.5 g); Sodium 170mg; Total Carbohydrate 12g; Protein1g / Exchanges: ½ Starch, 1½ Fat.

Happy Holidays!

Author: Michelle Hanson

Michelle Hanson, MA, RD, LD is Fresh & Natural Food’s Registered Dietitian. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Clinical Dietetics with a minor in Community Health from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She is a registered dietitian and current member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Michelle has been a nutrition consultant for numerous years as well as a nutrition research director at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

Michelle is passionate about food and nutrition and believes in helping people find simple, realistic ways to make healthy eating a part of their everyday lifestyle.
If you are interested in meeting Michelle or have questions for her, you can email her at: She will look forward to meeting you!